Type your question here!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Uses of Gibberellic Acid

 I put this on my blog in response to a question I recently received

Uses of Gibberellic Acid
Robert L. Morris
March 10, 2009

Gibberellic acid (also called Gibberellin A3, GA, and (GA3) is a hormone found in plants. Gibberellic acid is a very potent hormone whose natural occurrence in plants controls their development. Gibberellic acid promotes growth and elongation of cells. It affects decomposition of plants and helps plants grow if used in small amounts, but eventually plants develop tolerance for it. Gibberellic acid stimulates the cells of germinating seeds. Since GA regulates growth, applications of very low concentrations can have a profound effect while too much will have the opposite effect. It is usually used in concentrations between 0.01-10mg/L.

Gibberellins have a number of effects on plant development including rapid stem and root growth and increase seed germination rate.

Gibberellins are used in agriculture for various purposes. GA-3 is sprayed on seedless grapes to increase grape size and yield, and it is used on navel oranges, lemons, blueberries, sweet and tart cherries, artichokes and other crops to decrease or increase fruit set, delay rind aging, etc. These effects are highly dependent on concentration and stage of plant growth. GA is used to trigger flowering of sweet potatoes in breeding programs, to help tomatoes set fruit at high temperatures in the tropics, overcomes the need for chilling or long days to trigger flowering, and so is used in the tropics for breeding.

Developing seeds are active sites of containing GA and studies have found increases in GA levels in seeds during germination. The germination of old seeds has been improved with use of GA. Applied GA-3 may trigger dormant seed germination, in many cases overcoming the need for special or prolonged dormancy-breaking conditions such as cold treatment, light, after-ripening, etc.
  1. Overcoming dormancy. Treatment with high concentrations of GA is effective in overcoming dormancy and causing rapid germination of seed.
  1. Premature flowering. If a plant is sufficiently developed, premature flowering may be induced by direct application of GA to young plants.
  1. Increased fruit set. When there is difficulty with fruit set because of incomplete pollination, GA may be effectively used to increase fruit set. The resulting fruit maybe partially or entirely seedless. GA has increased the total yield in greenhouse tomato crops both as a result of increased fruit set and more rapid growth of the fruit.
  1. Hybridizing. Pollination within self-incompatible clones and between closely related species may sometimes be forced by the application of GA and cytokinin to the blooms at the time of hand pollination.
  1. Increased growth. GA applied near the terminal bud of trees may increase the rate of growth by stimulating more or less constant growth during the season.
  1. Frost protection. Spraying fruit trees at full-blossom or when the blossoms begin to wither can offset the detrimental effects of frost.
  1. Root formation. GA inhibits the formation of roots in cuttings.
ml (cup)
2400 (10 1/2)
Early flowering
600 (2 1/2)
Early flowering
160 (2/3)
Blossom set
60 (1/4)
Seed germination
1% paste
5 ml (1 tsp.) lanolin
Growth promoter
Table 1. Preparation of bloom or sizing sprays of gibberellic acid for use on various table grape varieties

Gibberellic acid is sometimes used in laboratory and greenhouse settings to stimulate germination in seeds that would otherwise remain dormant. It is also widely used in the grape-growing industry as a hormone to induce the production of larger bundles and bigger grapes, especially Thompson seedless grapes. In the Okanagan and Creston Valleys of Canada it is used in the cherry industry as a growth regulator.

Effects of Gibberellic Acid

Although GA is not listed as a "poison", the following precautions should be observed: Flush with water any GA that may get into the eye. Avoid skin contact if possible. If skin contact is suspected, wash with soap and water. Do not re-enter an area after spraying until the GA spray is fully dry. Avoid ingestion of GA. The powder may be dissolved as specified below to give the desired concentration.

Thinning and Increasing the Size of Table Grapes

In varieties like Thompson Seedless, Flame Seedless, Perlette and a few other varieties (seedless grapes primarily) GA3 (gibberellic acid) is used for either thinning out the number of flowers which set fruit, a bloom thinning spray, or for increasing the size of the berries (referred to as a sizing spray which is applied about one week following bloom). 
In some varieties both a bloom spray and one or two sizing sprays are generally applied. Not all varieties respond to bloom sprays for thinning. These varieties may use a gibberellin spray only for increasing the size of the berry. Grapes which produce seeds are generally larger than seedless grapes because seeds produce natural gibberellins which increase the size of the berries.
One must be extremely careful when using GA3 on grapes. Each variety has a different tolerance level and one should not ‘experiment” or use more of the material than is recommended for any given variety.
The gibberellin produced for commercial use in grapes is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, Merck, and Agtrol. It is produced in both a powder formulation and a liquid formulation. For most home owners, the 4% liquid formulation (containing 1.0 gram/fluid ounce of formulated product) is the easiest to use. Before applying gibberellin to your vines, refer to the gibberellin product label and the variety write-up for levels which each variety will tolerate. Do not exceed the recommended dosages. Higher than recommended levels can severely injure the plant. Do not apply gibberellic acid to grape varieties not listed on the product label.
The spraying guide put out by the companies for the use of 4% liquid on grapes refers to actual grams of gibberellic acid applied in the finished spray per acre. Conversion for only a few grapevines is often difficult; so, refer to Table I below in which the values have been converted to parts per million (ppm) in a one gallon water solution. One gallon of solution is enough to treat two mature grapevines.
The rate of gibberellin used increases as the season progresses. Bloom sprays are generally much lower than sizing sprays which are applied about one week later.

J. L. Hudson Seeds website. http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/GibberellicAcid.htm
Norton, Maxwell. 2007. Presentation at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Orchard Workshop.
Riley, John M. Gibberellic Acid for Fruit Set and Seed Germination. 1987 CRFG Journal (vol. 19, pp. 10-12). And can be found at http://www.crfg.org/tidbits/gibberellic.html
Wikipedia. Gibberellic Acid. Found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibberellic_acid